A recurring theme in scripture is that of God’s way doing things being unlike our human way of doing things. The way that God sees and judges, responds and acts is almost never in line with what we would typically do. Elsewhere, I have written about how God’s way of being is described in terms of foolishness (1 Corinthians 1) or as “unfair” by human standards (Matthew 20). Today’s First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah offers another glimpse at God’s intention.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
What if this Advent we acted a little more according to God’s way rather than our own? What if we took these three verses as a starting point for our own ongoing conversion?
So much of our socialization is geared at the exact opposite of this description of the Lord’s way of being: we are formed to judge by appearances; we gossip to no end; we oppress or overlook or ignore the poor and afflicted; we remain silent in the face of injustice; and putting ourselves first, we hardly embrace justice and faithfulness as essential elements or priorities in our lives.
We are formed by the culture and values around us, in overt and tacit ways, to live in such a way that stands in start contrast with the vision the prophets like Isaiah convey to us of how God intends us to live.
May this Advent be a time to take seriously the call we have received through the centuries to return to God, embracing justice and kindness as our way of being (Hosea 12:6).